Reporting Jennifer McLogan
DIX HILLS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Shocking charges on Long Island as parents are arrested for allegedly allowing their teenager to host a house party with booze in their basement.
Taylor Ann Cavaliere, 16, walked away from the home after drinking and was killed when she was hit by a car. CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan set out to ask the question: who is responsible?
Commack High School is abuzz with word that parents of a student were arrested for allowing underage drinking inside their home, five months after the tragic and shocking death of Cavaliere.
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Police said the teen stumbled away from the Dix Hills house party with alcohol in her system and was struck and killed as she tried to walk across the nearby parkway.
“We arrested the homeowners — Mr. and Mrs. Gelb under the Suffolk County Social Host Law,” said New York State Trooper Frank Bandiero.
Police say Robert and Lori Gelb were not serving the students alcohol, but were aware what was going on and did not take the legal steps to stop some 30 teens from drinking beer in their basement.
“They just held the party. They knew they were drinking, but it’s not like they expected somebody to die,” Commack senior Erik Chung told McLogan.
“It was really sad and it had a big toll on everyone,” said another student.
“It’s not the right thing when you’re an adult and allow this type of behavior,” parent Manny Vider added.
“Mr. and Mrs. Gelb, they are stressed, they are distraught over what happened. They are decent people. They just failed to take the proper action,” State Police Investigator James Chadwick said.
When Chadwick was asked by McLogan if the couple was “aware that children were leaving — either driving away or walking away drunk,” he answered “they were aware that they were leaving the home.”
Several teens told police they bought the beer at a Commack 7-Eleven and after a long investigation, state troopers also arrested clerk Mohammad Ellahi for unlawful sale of alcohol to minors.
A close family friend of the Cavaliere’s, who asked CBS 2 to record only her voice. said arrests are doing little to console their constant grief over the loss of their brilliant and popular daughter.
“Yesterday when the seniors of Commack High School gathered for a group picture, many friends put her initials on their back. Taylor will be forever in our broken hearts,” the friend said.
The Gelbs did not go to jail. They were released on their own recognizance and face only a $500 fine and a summons to appear in court in November.
Do you agree with the social host law, which puts adults in a place of responsibility when it comes to underage drinking in their homes? Sound off below!